Middle American screech owl

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Middle American screech owl
Vermiculated Screech-Owl.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Megascops
Species: M. guatemalae
Binomial name
Megascops guatemalae
(Sharpe, 1875)

Otus guatemalae (Sharpe, 1875)

The Middle American screech owl (Megascops guatemalae), also known as the Guatemalan screech owl or vermiculated screech owl, is a species of owl in the family Strigidae. It is found in forests and dense second growth from Mexico to Costa Rica.[2][3][4] Some authorities include Chocó screech owl and foothill screech owl in M. guatemalae, but under the English name vermiculated screech owl. When split, the name vermiculated screech owl (M. vermiculatus) is sometimes used for the population in Costa Rica and Panama, but based on voices all in Panama appear to be M. centralis (with its short-trilled song), while populations in Costa Rica appear to be divided between M. centralis and M. guatemalae (with its long-trilled song).[2][3][4]

With a length of 20 to 23 centimetres (7.9 to 9.1 in), it is a smaller than most other screech-owls. Unlike other owls of the same genus, it has feathered feet. It is dimorphic, with one morph overall grayish-brown and the other overall rufous. The tail is relatively long for an owl, the underside has conspicuous longitudinal stripes and some horizontal stripes. Its face is surrounded by a dark feather edge and it has relatively short ear tufts. The eyes are yellow. The beak is pale olive-greenish in color.


Currently, the Middle American screech owl has seven recognized subspecies:[5]

  • M. g. cassini (Ridgway, 1878)
  • M. g. dacrysistactus (R. T. Moore & J. L. Peters, 1939)
  • M. g. fuscus (R. T. Moore & J. L. Peters, 1939)
  • M. g. guatemalae (Sharpe, 1875)
  • M. g. hastatus Ridgway, 1887
  • M. g. thompsoni (Cole, 1906)
  • M. g. tomlini (R. T. Moore, 1937)


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Megascops guatemalae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Ridgely, R. S., & Greenfield, P. J. (2001). The Birds of Ecuador. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-7136-6116-X (vol. 1), ISBN 0-7136-6117-8 (vol. 2).
  3. ^ a b Hilty, S. L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela. 2nd edition. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02131-7
  4. ^ a b Robbins, M. B. (2001) Continue to recognize a broad Otus guatemalae (namely to include O. vermiculatus, O. napensis, O roraimae). South American Classification Committee. Accessed 25 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Megascops guatemalae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  • König, C., F. Weick & J.H. Becking (2008) Owls of the World. Christopher Helm, London, ISBN 978-0-7136-6548-2